Each year, I have the honor and privilege of taking the E3 stage to talk about the future of gaming at Microsoft, and to inspire and excite our amazing fans with the most anticipated games, new hardware and accessories, as well as the new Xbox Live platform features coming to Xbox One and Windows 10.
What we reveal on stage is often a year or more in the making, so it’s a tremendous moment for TEAM XBOX and our partners when we unveil our vision and share our announcements. Throughout the week, we celebrate all that is great about gaming – the gamers, the creators, the characters and stories, and everyone responsible for an industry focused on FUN.
For some, playing games is a way to unwind and relax alone – at work, after school or on the go. For others, it’s about the spirit of connection, competition and achievement amongst a group of like-minded friends. But, at its core, gaming is about fun. “Fun” is defined differently by different people, and we feel a responsibility as a team to build and protect that experience for everyone, and to offer more choice in how they play, who they play with and the devices they play on.
A little more than a year ago, we organized a project team within TEAM XBOX to lay the foundation for an internal movement: Gaming for Everyone. We saw the opportunity for the industry and felt compelled to do more to make gaming an inclusive environment that embraced everyone. We fundamentally believe that what we build for our fans and the way we show up – inside and outside the walls of Microsoft – is a reflection of who we are. We designed the program to reflect the core values we have as an organization and believe that the program could result in positive change – not only in our workplace but in the products we build for the gamers we serve.
To truly have a lasting impact requires a culture shift, one that won’t happen overnight. However, our team is committed to get better each day, to teach one another to pause in our decision making process and think about the amazing diversity of needs, abilities and interests amongst gamers around the world. It has forced our team to think differently across the entire gaming experience – from hardware, to games and service. And it has helped us ask the big questions:
- How do we ensure a safe and supportive environment – for all gamers – on our Live services?
- How do we make product decisions that give gamers more choice in how and with whom they play, while respecting developers’ creative choices?
- How do we help our engineers better understand the needs of those with varying levels of physical ability?
- How do we build even more diversity in TEAM XBOX talent so we can better understand, relate to and reflect the variety of gamers and needs in our community?
And while we do not have all the answers, we are committed as a team that if our mission was to put gamers at the center of everything we do, we need to better understand – and better represent – the needs of ALL gamers.
Today, we announced that we’re giving you the choice of who you play with through Clubs and Looking For Group on Xbox Live, so you can better connect with people who share your interests and version of fun.
Titles like “Sea of Thieves” and many others give you the choice of how you want to play, to be the pirate you want to be, with hundreds of ways to customize your character. In “Gears of War,” we give gamers a choice to play co-op play as either Del or Kait, or as one of many powerful characters in multiplayer mode. With Xbox Live, you have the choice to play anywhere you want, without boundaries.
And with Xbox Online Safety features, you choose your level of exposure to violence, language or interactions with other people so your gaming experience is as controlled as you want it to be. With Xbox Design Lab, fans can even choose a controller that is a reflection of their personal style.
As Xbox and the industry around us has grown over the years, we haven’t always facilitated fun and gaming for everyone. But in that time, one thing that has never wavered is the team’s dedication to be better. Every day. We continue to listen to our fans and make Xbox a place where everyone is welcome, respected and supported.
While we have a lot of work ahead of us, I’m incredibly excited about what the future holds as we put all of our products through the lens of reflecting the diversity in our audience and inclusion, support and choice for all gamers. I encourage all of our partners and fans to join us on this journey.
We can and we will do better as an industry moving forward.